SALT LAKE CITY—In the wake of declining numbers of full-time missionaries and a drop in new-member retention rates, the church has been rethinking its missionary efforts. In a press conference, spokesman Arthur W. Knowles said that the church will begin to withdraw its missionaries from countries such as South Africa, Peru, Panama, and Taiwan and focus their efforts in countries “not quite so prone to being boring and poor.”
“It’s not that we don’t care about poor people,” says Knowles. “That’s why we have our humanitarian services, after all. But, let’s face it, poor people do absolutely nothing to help our image. The poverty-stricken members in Guatemala, for example, wear the ugliest, blandest clothing imaginable, and they’ve never even heard of Lex de Azevedo or Dockers khakis. We need to start asking ourselves: do we really want these people as members?”
He adds, “Come on—if you were told you had to go proselyte in Sierra Leone or Monte Carlo, which would you choose? That’s right. You’re not dumb.”
Citing the church’s “declining worldwide cool factor” as the main reason for this change in policy, Knowles emphasizes that members of poorer countries will still be welcomed and loved “as long as they are making an effort to try and be more hip”—but they won’t be actively sought out as church members. He also says that missionaries will not be sent to countries that tend to be hit by natural disasters, because “all that cleanup is totally a drag.”
The church will instead be sending more missionaries to large resort islands such as the Bahamas—”but only the rich areas,” according to Knowles—the French Riviera, Hawaii, St. Tropez, and Tahiti. “We figure that missionaries lounging on the beaches with virgin mai-tais in hand, laughing and singing hymns, will attract a more desirable clientele,” explains Knowles.
“Besides, what do these poorer countries offer us?” he adds. “Like, what, two cents of tithing per member per year? That’s less than it costs us to print the tithing slips. We think the Lord deserves a better return on his investment.”